Guest post contributed by Wayne Schell
My love for automobiles began at a very early age. When WW2 started I was 5-years old. My dad was quick to realize that all auto manufacturing was shut down for the war effort. He started a junkyard because new parts for cars were totally unavailable; it was a good business. When I was 8-years old and my brother was 11-years old, we would work summers in the junkyard for my dad. He would give us tasks, such as, “go out to a 1940 Plymouth and get a fuel pump off of it,” this was because a customer wanted to buy it.
I got my first taste of performance when I bought a 1950 Oldsmobile 88 in 1955 for $1,000. They were the fastest cars around until the 1955 Chevys debuted. Next, come the 1956 Oldsmobile which had a 240 HP engine however, they were much heavier than the 1956 Chevy’s 180 horsepower. As you can see, the Chevys were quicker. I managed to buy a 240 HP 1956 Oldsmobile engine out of a wrecked one for $250 and put it in my light weight 1950 Olds. It fit perfectly and I had the fastest car around. 0 to 60 in six seconds, I was hooked!
As life went on, I got married and had kids which resulted in some withdrawals in the car department. No time or money for my pursuit of fast cars. However, I did manage to buy a 1957 Corvette in 1960 that had been badly wrecked and thanks to my mechanic skills, I rebuilt it when I wasn’t working my regular toolmakers job. When I finished, I knew I couldn’t afford to keep it, so I drove it to Vegas for one fling and then dutifully sold it for the betterment of my fledgling family.
Throughout the years, I never lost my passion. When I became a successful businessman, also becoming single again in 1974, I bought a 260Z and then in 1976 a 280Z. Then, I really went over the top and bought a new 1979 308 Ferrari. The Ferrari was a head-turner but it really wasn’t that fast. I found out that Ferrari made a twelve-cylinder called a 512 Boxer. They were super expensive back in 1980, $140,000 plus they weren’t legal in the U.S. They didn’t meet smog standards or bumper standards. So, the very wealthy would buy one in Europe for $140,000 and then pay another $40,000 to make it compliant. However, there was a big recession in 1979-1980 and I was able to buy one that had been converted. It actually came from the estate of Karen Carpenter for $60,000!
After that, I really got crazy and bought a 1980 512 Boxer that had been made into a Targa and had been retrofitted with Twin-turbos. After I bought it, I took it to my mechanic for him to check out (he was a crazy Swiss/German who had a Boxer himself). I went back on Monday and he had blown the clutch while test driving it. He said, “I will fix it at no cost. You have to remove the engine to replace the clutch.”
A week later I went back to check out the progress. He had the whole engine disassembled! He pointed out all the things that should be fixed. Wanting to fix it right, I agreed to pay him the $10,000 estimate. Long story short, a year and $40,000 later, I had a 700 horsepower Twin-turbo that was a race car (definitely not a street friendly car).
Along the way I found that the original owner of this Ferrari was the late dictator, Mohamar Kadafi. Meanwhile, during the process of finding that original owner, I sold my other Boxer and traded it for a 1984 Corvette. Since I needed transportation from point A to point B, I started driving the Vette. I began to like the Corvette better than the Ferraris! With that said, I bought a new 1987 Corvette and then when the 1990 Corvette ZR1 came out, I added one of them to my collection as well.
More recently, on May 27, 2020, I flew back to New York and took possession of one of the most coveted Corvettes in its illustrious history, the 2020 Corvette C8. I had the pleasure of driving it back from where I purchased it (Queens New York) to California.
Currently, I have a beautiful 2016 Stingray. Because the C-8 is mid engine I really expected it to be loud. Every Corvette I’ve ever owned has been loud (This makes number fourteen). But, what blew me away is this new C-8 is the quietest car I’ve ever been in, and the sound system is spectacular! As an old guy (84), I, like my cohorts, am pretty hard of hearing but on my trip across country I was able to hear everything.
The management and engineers at Corvette should be very proud. I honestly believe the new C-8 is the finest automobile ever produced. General Motors should turn over the rest of the company to Corvette and bring back its former glory. Here’s why: When I picked up my C-8 from the dealership in Queens, they were very nice, but honestly I knew more about my new car than they did and they admitted it. I was anxious to get out of New York as quick as possible since everything was shut down (due to COVID-19).
The first thing I noticed starting out was the tachometer redline was only 4,000 RPM. I thought to myself, I wonder how this thing is ever going to make 0 to 60 in three seconds on such low revs? The next day when I was in Pennsylvania and the odometer turned 500 miles, the redline jumped up to 7,500 RPM, now that’s some good forethought. Have any of you other lucky Corvette owners noticed that subtle little innovation?
The ride and handling is the best of any car I’ve ever owned. On the Lexus I own, with all the options for the climate control and heated seats, they have a touch screen computer system to access the various features. But it’s complicated and a three or four step process to get a heated seat or to even turn it off. This is where the new C-8 really shines! It has an arranged 18 control button on an array in a center divider between the driver and passenger. Every function is directly accessible in one step. The three that you use most, the driver side temperature, the passenger side temperature, and the fan speed are all toggle switches. The driver’s at the top, the fan in the center, and the passenger at the bottom. You don’t even have to take your eyes off the road to adjust them. You can easily find them by feeling for them.
The engineer who designed this should get promoted. I used the cooling function on the seat today. Instant response! I haven’t pushed it too hard for performance but I can tell it’s everything I expected. Now here’s the real shocker. My Lexus LC500 is a Hybrid and I get from 29 to 33 mpg on the highway depending if the winds are behind me or in front of me. Lexus claims 35 mpg. Yea, I can get 35 if I drive 60 mph. Corvette claims 27 mpg on the highway. I covered 2,700 miles so far and I’m averaging 28.8 mpg. Keep in mind I was getting about 6 mpg for the first hour getting out of New York. Once it was broken in, I filled it up early one morning during my road trip home when I was in Roswell, New Mexico and drove to Tucson and averaged 33 mpg driving 80 miles an hour and it wasn’t windy. I have 411 miles on this tank and the computer says I can go 190 more miles before fueling. That’s a 600 mile range. Not too shabby.
The best thing of all, everywhere I stopped the cameras came out. I’m just thrilled that I was able to locate one that didn’t have a $30,000 premium attached. At my age with a two year waitlist when you order one, I may have never had the pleasure and thrill that I’ve experienced in just the first four days of owning my C8.